Monday, April 2, 2007

My "Real Girl"

Hi Friends,

It was suggested to me that I enter my daughter Rebecca in the "Real Girl" contest sponsored by the American Girl company.  I worked hard writing this entry and received feedback and constructive critique from several of my friends.  I'm grateful for their help!  I wanted to share the entry as some have asked to read it.

The company indicates that winners will hear by May 1st.  We'll post if we hear any good news.  Enjoy!


While reading about your search for the 2007 Real Girl, I couldn't help but think of our daughter, Rebecca.  As the second child and only girl in a family with 4 brothers, she has been confronted with a difficult family crisis, and she has certainly risen to the challenge.

Rebecca was elated to learn that she had a little sister on December 16, 2006 when we welcomed Eliana Joy to our family.  She spent many days praying for, anticipating and helping to prepare for the baby and it was difficult for her tender heart when she learned that Eliana was born with congenital heart defects, in addition to Down Syndrome.  Eliana would have to spend time in the Special Care (NICU) nursery and in the months to come, face open heart surgery.

Rebecca visited her new sister in the NICU, and after seeing her struggle along with the other NICU newborns, she began to think of ways she could help babies that needed special care.  Her compassionate heart led her to make two knitted hats, which were given to the NICU nursery.  Continuing her efforts, Rebecca began making beaded bracelets, deciding she would sell them in an effort to raise funds for babies needing heart surgery.  

"Wholehearted" is the name that Rebecca chose for her business, representing the whole heart she wants for her sister and other babies.  Rebecca works diligently to make creative and unique bracelets, all the while helping take care of her younger brothers when Eliana requires special care from me - a feeding tube and another hospital stay.     She has stepped up to the responsibilities with love to assist our family through this incredibly difficult time. 

Rebecca wants to share her vision of helping babies with heart defects.  Her compassion, coupled with the beautiful bracelets, impressed her customers as she was raising money.  Her concern for these special babies is the driving force behind her fundraising.  She tells potential customers about her sister and the desire to help babies in need.  Initially she went door to door in our neighborhood, selling her bracelets and raising $72.  I encouraged her to try to make it to $100, and then she could donate all of the money to Duke Children's Hospital where Eliana is being treated and will have surgery to repair her heart.

Rebecca continued to make bracelets and was offered several opportunities to sell at other venues.  Gathering her courage and relying on her faith, she decided to take advantage of these opportunities for fundraising.  As she shares her heart with others, the response has been overwhelming.  She has donated over 100 hours and raised over $1100 for other babies needing heart repair.  In April, she will be attending a special needs conference to raise more money.  This conference will occur while Eliana is in the hospital recovering from her own heart surgery.  

I am so proud of her diligence, creativity and generousity.  Rebecca is working hard to make a difference in the lives of others, a quality I believe represents a real American Girl!